Having a smile that shows off gleaming white teeth has always felt elusive to me. No matter what kind of toothpaste I use or every-now-and-then at-home treatment I undertook, it just wasn’t happening for me and my teeth.
One day I was scrolling Instagram stories and saw a Vancouver-based influencer - who does have gleaming pearly whites - document her visit to Mint Smile Bar. Hold up, I thought. There’s a place where you can go in Vancouver that’s not a dentist’s office where you can turn up the wattage on the shade of your teeth?
It was kind of like the smile gods were actually smiling on me, because I was soon offered the chance to document my own experience at Mint Smile Bar. Would I go in for an hour or so and give their treatment a try? A hundred percent, yes.
Mint Smile Bar is a vegan teeth whitening clinic located inside the International Village Mall in Tinseltown, steps from the SkyTrain. The small storefront is staffed by a team of cheery employees who immediately make you feel at ease. After all, you’re about to don a wacky set of tinted eye coverings, have your mouth held open with a light shining on your teeth, and sit down inside an alien-looking egg for a part of your morning - so feeling at ease is key.
I was also a little nervous because I do have sensitivity issues with my teeth; I’m the dental patient who seems to feel every prod and poke while in the chair, even under sedation, and the first person to cringe when sipping something ice-cold. I headed in expecting some discomfort, but as it turned out, the entire process wasn’t only painless; it was downright relaxing.
Upon arrival, you’ll fill out some basic paperwork, then undergo a pre-treatment check of what shade your teeth currently are according to their colour chart. Because what Mint Smile Bar does is so effective, you’ll see your shade go down a few spots on the chart even during your visit.
A staff member helps get your mouth set open with some flexible plastic cheek retractors, which also ended up being surprisingly comfortable for me. They patiently explained the procedure, which involves a Health Canada-approved and North American-made whitening gel being applied to your teeth, which is then set with an LED light. This is where the red-tinted eye protectors and the chill session in the “egg” chair comes in. The cushioned treatment pods are slightly reclined and well-padded so you can sit back at an angle; it’s definitely relaxing, but it’s primarily to keep you from having saliva pool in your mouth.
The light stays on you for 20 minutes, during which time you can totally zone out, though the staff will come by to check on you. Once the time is up, someone will help you out of the seat and take you to the sink where you’ll rinse off the gel, and then return to the chair to do it over a second or third time. Sessions are either done in two or three sets of 20 minutes, so 40 or 60 minutes.
When you’re all done with your final rinse, the staff will do one last check of your tooth shade. Typically clients go down about three to five shades during the initial treatment, depending on the condition of their enamel and where they were on the chart to begin with. I went down about three shades and was super happy with the results.
Right after the treatment, your teeth will show contrasting discoloration more vibrantly. Since I do have some trouble spots on a couple of my front teeth, I did notice this, but just as promised, things evened out nicely over the next couple of days.
There’s a post-treatment protocol to follow, which is pretty simple for most. Immediately after the treatment you’ll want to abstain from eating or drinking anything except water, and then for the next day or so follow what they call the “white” diet - basically don’t eat anything that would leave a stain on a white t-shirt. Since I’m the V.I.A. foodie, and had a couple of meals with all sorts of stain-leaving foods on my schedule for the next day, Mint Smile Bar fortunately has a special gel available that acts as an extra barrier that you apply 15 minutes before eating for a day or two after your treatment.
With my teeth’s newly improved gleam preserved, I headed back into my regular life after just about an hour and a half at Mint Smile Bar with a brighter, whiter smile. Colleagues for sure noticed the difference, which felt great. Simply put, Mint Smile Bar was such an easy, comfortable, and enjoyable experience that left me smiling.
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To learn more about teeth whitening services, visit mintsmilebar.com